I first dated Alexis in middle school when we were both members of the cross country team. She didn’t have much interest in running, but was instead cross training for her real passion: soccer. To say that Alexis loved soccer would be an understatement. I clearly understood my secondary role in her priorities.
We dated again our senior year of high school. Alexis had been recruited to play for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a team that had won the Division II Soccer Championship two year prior. She was excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.
Until She Couldn’t Play Anymore
Most Americans don’t believe soccer is a physical sport. It is, especially the way Alexis played. Her smash mouth style would eventually be her downfall, but an aggressive mentality was the only way she knew to approach the game. An ongoing back injury caused her immense pain and continually worsened, limiting her abilities. After a year of attempting to play through it, she faced reality and had to quit the team.
She was devastated. She had invested so much energy into a sport she could no longer play and didn’t know where to turn.
And That’s When Her Passion Shifted
Slowly, she found ways to fill the void. She took up undergraduate research, interned for a neurosurgeon, and got accepted to medical school. She spent several weeks volunteering at clinics in Honduras and Jamaica. The dedication she had for soccer had transitioned to medicine.
At the beginning of this year, she applied for a fellowship program with Partners in Health, an organization founded by the chair of the Global Health Department at Harvard University. Partners in Health has clinics in the poorest countries around the world and is even taking part in the recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She didn’t think she would get accepted into the highly selective program. The pool of applicants was very competitive, largely made up of students from more prestigious universities.
She Got In
This week will mark four months of a year long commitment in Haiti for Alexis. Her time there has not been without difficulties. Adjusting to a any foreign country is challenging, especially when you don’t speak the language. The situation is exacerbated when you are working a high stress job, treating individuals with conditions beyond reprieve, and where the demand for your care is so high.
When I tell people about my girlfriend, the med student spending a year in Haiti, they think she’s nuts. They can’t understand why someone would choose to live in a third world country. That’s how Alexis differs from you and I. She sees the benefits of providing medical care to the most impoverished people in the world as more meaningful then the hardships that go along with it. She has a strong desire to help others, specifically those who do not have the means to help themselves. She recently started a fundraiser to equip Haitian surgical residents with the tools they need to perform delicate operations. Her goal is ambitious, but with our help, I have no doubt that she can reach it.
This is Where You Come In
The actions of people who are passionate about what they do can not be found in the middle of the bell curve. They are outliers, assuming more risk than others because they posses vision that can see further through the fog of potential consequences.
I’m not asking you to donate to make a difference (it will), but instead to show support for a woman who is passionate about what she does. A majority of people will tell you to play it safe, to stay on the well worn path. That’s not how you make an impact in the world. In order to affect genuine change you must veer into uncharted waters.
The Thing Is, This Is Just The Start
Helping the most downtrodden among us isn’t some fleeting desire for Alexis. It’s her life’s mission, and her effort in Haiti is just the tip of the iceberg. She is going to continue work like this for the rest of her life providing care in parts of the world where hope has long been forgotten.
You can support Alexis’ mission by donating here